August 23 – This Day in Country Music


Born on this day in Ramsey, Illinois, was Sollie Paul Williams who became known as the American Western swing musician Tex Williams. He is best known for his talking blues style and had the 1947 novelty hit with “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)” which he co-wrote with Merle Travis. Williams died of pancreatic cancer on October 11, 1985.

Kitty Wells became the first female solo artist to score a #1 hit on the Billboard country charts with “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” The song, an answer to Hank Thompson’s “The Wild Side of Life,” spent two weeks atop the chart and forever changed how women were seen, both in song and professionally.

Johnny Cash was at #1 on the Billboard country singles chart with “A Boy Named Sue”. The song tells the tale of a young man’s quest for revenge on a father who abandoned him at 3 years of age and whose only contribution to his entire life was naming him Sue, commonly a feminine name, which results in the young man suffering from ridicule and harassment by everyone he meets in his travels. Also on this day Chet Atkins appeared as the special guest on this week’s Johnny Cash ABC television music variety show.

“Boot Scootin’ Boogie” by Brooks & Dunn was at #1 on the Country chart. Its success is cited as having started a renewed interest in line dancing throughout the United States. Before its release, Asleep at the Wheel recorded it on their 1990 album Keepin’ Me Up Nights.